Professor Eddington made a tiny adjustment to one of the controls, and an entirely new set of lines branched out from the nexus floating in space before him.
Sim loved to watch his mentor work the algorithm. The professor’s hands were plucking at the threads of the continuum like a weaver, manipulating the timelines, teasing apart the continuously flowing ribbon of light.
The Copernicans were masters of prediction, using highly complex mathematical models to calculate the best possible future. It was a never-ending task, requiring the power of a computational engine the size of a cathedral, the building in which they now stood.
Eddington’s hand suddenly froze over a single point in the network of lines, his fingers twitching to expand the event, magnifying it until the finer details were revealed.
‘Master Simian, please apply the Heisenberg coefficient.’
Sim did as he was asked, watching the additional formulae strip away the less relevant factors until there were fewer critical timelines to focus on.
‘Now the Malvarnian interpretation,’ instructed the professor, pushing his spectacles back onto the bridge of his nose.
Again the model changed, becoming a single thread.
Eddington’s face was a study in concentration, his eyes nothing more than narrow slits behind his glasses.
Sim recognised the temporal sigils around the event. It was part of the first year syllabus in his actuarial studies — the Second World War.
‘As I suspected, it appears we have a bifurcation, as predicted by Grandmaster Watzenrode.’
The Watzenrode hypothesis was a hotly debated subject amongst the senior Copernicans, which argued that there were two equally justifiable endpoints to the Second World War and, more specifically, to when Hitler was removed from power.
The first was his assassination during a meeting of his executive at Wolf’s Lair in Eastern Prussia in July 1944, and the other was the fall of Berlin in April 1945.
The current timeline was running with the first scenario. Still, Sim could see from the predictive model that something was causing a change in the pattern.
‘There seems to be a singular causation,’ Eddington whispered, slowly moving his fingers through the lines of light, teasing apart the luminous strands. ‘One particular change agent. Curious chronological pattern. Can you run a trace on this lifeline?’ he asked, separating one pulsing thread from the others.
Sim nodded, moving his hands across the brass controls of his console, adjusting the dials and watching the glyphs of the temporal coordinates fall into place. ‘Joshua Jones. Point of origin, 2000. London.’
Eddington looked confused. ‘A member of the Order?’
Sim shook his head. ‘Negative professor.’ He knew from his mentor’s expression what the next question would be.
‘Who do we have on watch during the twenty-first century?’
Sim was already opening his almanac. He ran down the list of watchmen until he reached the twenty-first.
Eddington sneered, unable to hide his disappointment. ‘Send the details to him, but I’m going to call for an emergency session of the High Council.’
Sim wrote Westinghouse’s name at the top of a blank page, adding the glyphs for the timeline and watching the branching lines spreading across the paper. Somewhere deep below in the bowels of the Copernican headquarters, an entire department of actuaries would be busy transcribing the details onto a temporally linked copy of Westinghouse’s almanac.
Next: Chapter 4 >>